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Understanding Property Tax Re-Appraisal


What does it mean when you get a notice about an upcoming property tax re-appraisal?

Every number of years, when property values on a town's recordkeeping tax role seem to get out of line, a municipal-wide appraisal is made. It's called a mass appraisal and usually is done every 7 to 15 years.

Mass property appraisals are the process used by local government for valuing a group of properties as of a given date. There are about 70,000 different taxing jurisdictions with different deadlines and revaluation criteria to impose.

For the taxing authority to employ an appraiser would be too costly. A mass appraisal is determined by legal and budgetary decisions and each town has its own agenda.

A mass appraiser does not go inside a home unless the property owner happens to be there and they invite him in, then he will go in. The mass appraisers are contracted to view the properties front and back, which is commonly referred to as a walk-around appraisal.

A professional fee appraiser, on the other hand, would look at one property at a time. He will go into the house and he will look at all the elements, record and analyze all the various aspects, consider the depreciation factors into his account as he weighs those results against comparable homes before rendering his final conclusion.

Consider who's doing the re-appraisal. The mass appraisal process provides valuation, although quickly obtained, on forms that become transferred to your property record card. To the person measuring your home, time is of the essence and errors occur.

Sometimes the appraisal process involves merely driving by to note if there are any changes (windshield appraisal). Ask yourself, how much attention was given to your property if less than $15 or $20 was allocated per appraisal. The people employed to gather the information (hired by a mass appraisal contractor tying to make a profit) are on a quota, have questionable appraisal skills and are not a substitute for careful analysis.

As a homeowner you need to check for mechanical errors! Facts are often omitted, inaccurate data is often recorded or the comparable properties are totally off base! Many property tax experts claim that 50% of homeowners may be paying more taxes than they should be due to mistakes in property assessments.

Tax rates are an entirely another matter. The tax rate has nothing to do with the results of the appraisal. The tax assessor can neither raise nor lower the tax rate. It is independent of the law. That tax rate is derived from the budget expenses and arrived at by the City Council

Dispute your assessed values if you think it's too high. Putting it in writing and making an appointment to go before the board of equalization where you can appeal those values will save you thousands of dollars. These appeals must put that in writing by a certain deadline to the board.


For more information and insights into this topic, Property Tax Reduction & Appeals home page.


Press Release 7/22/08